December 4, 2014
CCOT: The Silk Road
The Silk Road was established during the 2nd century BCE, while not the first network of trade routes, it was one of the most impactful, carrying goods, ideas, disease and conflict throughout Africa and Eurasia. The impact of the interactions impacted millions notably spreading both Buddhism and the Black Death. The Silk Road was marked by the continued spread of ideas and goods. Throughout the lifespan of the Silk Road, changes were seen as control over the routes shifted and as the civilizations participating in the trade changed.
The SIlk Road was created after Alexander the Great established a system of Hellenistic kingdoms and trade networks which reached from the Mediterranean to the borders of China and trade was opened to Central Asia during the Han Dynasty. During the Han Dynasty, agriculture, handicrafts and commerce flourished. On the Mediterranean end of the Silk Road, communications exploded after the Roman conquest of Egypt. The Roman Empire inherited previously Hellenistic and Arabic trade routes, introducing new luxuries and increasing prosperity in the Mediterranean world.
The interactions that defined the Silk Routes changed in a variety of ways, including the civilizations on which these interactions impacted. In the Mediterranean world, the Byzantine Empire replaced the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire would be a long standing part of the Silk Road. In China, the Han Dynasty, ending in 220 C.E., was followed by a brief era of discord and fighting as the states of Wei, Shu and Wu warred for power. The Three Kingdoms period was then succeeded by the Jin Dynasty, followed by the Northern and Southern Dynasties. The Northern and Southern Dynasties was a period marked by chaos and political instability but also by the flourishing of arts and culture. It was also the
period in which Mahayana Buddhism, introduced in the first or second century. The importance of Buddhism’s...
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